Sure, it's Wednesday, time to move on. But there are still things to discuss. Like what we can take away from the game and the things we need to work on. With that in mind I dish out a few Celebratory Brews and a couple of Wags of my finger!
The Defense: There aren't enough superlatives to do justice to the job they did on Saturday. Aside from a few missed tackles (more on that later), one of the best defensive performances the Big House has seen in quite some time. Taylor, Johnson and Max Martin get massive props for Standing up Wisconsin's massive line, and winning. Also, while Taylor and Johnson were great, I hope everyone is paying attention to just how good Mike Martin has been (as opposed to Max Martin, who's name I erroneously used before). And he's a freshman. But a freshman who shed a double block on the failed two point conversion to smash Evridge as he threw on the game's final, and most important play. If he continues to play like this we're going to be memorializing his name in song very shortly.
Halftime Adjustments: Until this year I'd only heard of them. When the coaching staff realized the horizontal game plan wasn't working, they changed it. I back sets. Some traditional power game. The deep ball. The offensive coaching staff should be commended for an excellent second half.
Jonas Mouton: Just an outstanding game by the young linebacker. Mouton was all over the field from my vantage point; in a good way. He seems like a hybrid DE/LB in the Shawn Crable mold, except without the constant penalties that make you want to break things. Mouton routinely shed his blockers to make a play, blitzed his way into Evridge's helmet, and took down backs in space when he was the only thing between them and 30 yards. That added up to 8 tackles, a sack, and a boatload of props. Monster game.
Brandon Graham: Defensive POW in the Big Ten. I still maintain my prediction that he's going to break someone in half by midseason. He saved the game sacking Evridge at the six. Leads the Big Ten in TFL.
Brandon Harrison: Quickly becoming my favorite player on the 2008 squad. I've never seen someone his size hit like that. Cus D'amato once said of Mike Tyson, "He hits with bad intentions." So does Harrison. Harrison laid a hit on PJ Hill halfway through the second quarter that made my teeth rattle, and it should be noted that Hill sat out the rest of that series. Harrison also lit up Wisconsin's receivers whenever they touched the ball. At five foot nothin' he plays like the biggest guy in the defensive backfield.
All your conciousness are belong to Brandon Harrison. via mikedesimone.com
Donovan Warren: Served notice that the left side of the field is his, and his alone. Throw there at your peril. Best corner in the Big Ten at this point in the season. Warren also showed he can play some run defense, as he took down a handful of stretches to his side and made a touchdown saving tackle on Clay when he busted contain in the second.
Minor/McGuffie/Grady/Brown: All of them chipped in something big. Minor busted the "holy crap we can win this" run. Grady gave us hope with the "this is our season" 4&1 conversion. Brown gave Threet his first passing first down and seemed to settle Threet with that effort. McGuffie capped the comeback with a ballsy, 3& goal cut to the endzone. Sure some longer runs would've been nice, but these guys provided consistent effort and great pass blocking all day. They also provided 14 points.
Steven Threet, Version 2.0: Not to be confused with the Version 1.0 that spent the majority of the first half flailing about the backfield like a trout on dry land. While V2.0 wasn't perfect, he was pretty damn good and showed himself to be an above average college level quarterback on Saturday. He showed some touch, threw a couple of outstanding deep passes, and made the proper decisions at crucial times in the comeback. Plus, that pass to Koger was beautiful. His intermediate, middle of the field passes still need work but the majority of what he showed us from the 30 minute mark onward was outstanding.
The Offensive Line: While this group wasn't terrific during the opening half, they were more than serviceable. The fact Michigan couldn't run the ball had more to do with 9 man fronts more than anything else. Even on the rare occasion someone got to Threet in the backfield, it was usually on a broken play or that infamous late hit. Face it, they controlled the line of scrimage the second half of the game. Threet may have been hit from time to time, but the line didn't give up a sack. Not bad for a bunch guys the media called no-names, back-ups and underachievers at the beginning of the year. Steve Schilling, at least from where I was sitting, looked pretty impressive.
Wags of the Finger:
First Half Offensive Play Calling: When your wife is describing the the play calling as Weis-esque, you know something is wrong. She alos mockingly asked when we hired Bob Davie to run our offense. That may have cut to the bone, but, damn son, I married a good woman. While I will grant you Threet V1.0 was terrible, even that shouldn't have handcuffed the Michigan offense to the extent we saw. Wisconsin was stacking the line, over pursuing, and locking in on the totally obvious screens we were running. A little misdirection, mabye even a single deep ball in the first half would've helped to keep the defense honest. It wasn't pretty.
Throwing to the Shortest Guy on the Field in the Middle of the Zone: I may be in the minority on this, but the continued attempts to get Martavious Odoms the ball on these little run to the hole in the zone pass plays are driving me crazy. Yes, Threet was inaccurate on a majority of those throws, but if there's a linebacker anywhere between Threet and Odoms that's a tough throw. It's also going to be a throw where an extra 6 inches in height and arm span come in handy. If the backer's in there, there's got to be height on the throw, and its got to be a hard throw because otherwise the safety will knock it away or intercept it. We tried it at least four times and got one completion. Two bad passes, one drop, and one completion. Those numbers scream "Don't Ever Use Me Again," at least until Threet proves he can make the throw and Odoms proves he can catch it.
Martavious Odoms: I'll be honest, this is a stretch, but Odoms looked a little lost. He failed to turn around for the ball twice on passes to him. He dropped a ball or two that should've been caught, and looked a little tentative. He's here because of the misunderstandings on the pass plays. We're lucky those didn't get intercepted and run back.
Morgan Trent: Maybe I'm being too harsh, but Trent had a rough day. The fumble on the kick off was just maddening. On the second quarter Clay near-touchdown run, Trent blew the tackle that allowed Clay to scamper an extra 20 yards before Warren pushed him out of bounds. On the game's last touchdown, he got beat, stumbling on his own two feet, on a single move to the middle of the field. Sure Brown had the inside of that play, but Trent's stumble allowed the free release before Brown could get there. In his defense, one of the bright spots was an absolutely wicked hit he put on Jefferson. Even so, I'm sure this is a day #14 would like to have back.
Steven Threet Version 1.0: Horrid. Bad decision making. Bad option release. Bad arm mechanics. Bad throws. I think he'd agree with me on this.
Officiating: These guys were terrible. Failure to review plays that warranted it (Mathews fumble). They missed, at a minimum two blantant Pass interference calls in one series, a dozen obvious holds, and blew at least on call on replay (the completion on UW's final drive).
Special Teams: Two more fumbles and an anemic return game. WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?WHY?
All Things Inbetween:
The Linebackers: Great game from Ezi and Thompson. Under normal circumstances they'd be at the top of the Celebratory Brews list, but I ran out of space. One thing that deserves special note is Thompson's individual effort to string out a stretch play while being blocked by a fullback and tackle, and still make the stop during UW's second possession of the Second half. He was the only thing between UW and a big gain, and he made things happen. Quietly, these guys played great.
The Booing: Meh. Everyone's chimed in on this. Brian hates it. Varsity Blue's annoyed. M Victors didn't like. Maize and Blue Nation had an anurysm over it. On the other hand, Michigan Sports Center and I have owned up to being among those who voiced their displeasure. To each their own. In hindsight I wish I'd kept my emotions a little better in check and not done it, but I don't blame people who did. That was the worst played half of football Michigan's ever played in the Big House, and to paraphrase Chris Rock, "I'm not saying you should've done it, but I understand."
Block M in the Student Section: Wooooooo!
Kevin Koger: Welcome to the show kid. From the looks of things Koger will be Michigan's starting tight end for the foreseeable future. Mike Massey tries, God bless him, but unfortunately isn't as good as the effort he puts forth. Carson Butler, much to my reget, can't stay out of anyone's doghouse and was benched for the game, despite suiting up. Blocking wise Butler is probably the best tightend on the team and he certainly adds an offensive deminision you love, but if Koger can get open like he did Saturday Butler's playing time may go out the window until he proves he can stay out of trouble and in the good graces of his coach.
Greg Mathews: Good and bad day for #13. Bad fumble on his punt return. Great and crucial catches throughout the second half.
Stevie Brown and Charles Stewart: Good game boys. Keep it up.